New Castle News

Closer Look

May 2, 2014

Hilcorp objects to delaying hearings

NEW CASTLE — Hearings scheduled for next week on Hilcorp Energy Co.’s application for forced pooling may be delayed again.

Late Thursday, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection officials were reviewing a letter from hearing officer Michael Bangs stating he cannot rule on three landowners’ request for a delay until DEP Secretary Christopher Abruzzo decides whether they can intervene in the matter.

In this landmark case, Hilcorp is attempting to use a 1961 state law to force reluctant landowners to sign leases that would allow the company access to gas and oil under their land.

Both Hilcorp and the DEP have said in their filings that they do not object to the landowners intervening in the case, which would give them legal status as parties to the lawsuit. Currently, only DEP and Hilcorp have this status.

Hilcorp is against delaying the forced pooling hearings any longer.

In a motion filed with the DEP Thursday, the Texas oil and gas drilling company said it already has waited long enough for its request to be heard and opposes the month’s delay asked for to allow the attorney representing three of the property owners to prepare.

However, in a motion filed Wednesday, the DEP said it has no objection to a delay “to allow the property owners a meaningful opportunity to participate in the hearing on the application, as is their right” under state law.

Hilcorp’s attorneys — Kevin L. Colosimo and Daniel P. Craig of Burleson in Canonsburg — stated that if the hearing goes on as scheduled Wednesday and Thursday, the company will have waited 294 days for the hearing to take place since filing its application.

The two attorneys said the landowners have known about the company’s request since Oct. 5.

The case has been delayed several times because of questions about jurisdiction.

Attorney Omar K. Abuhejleh, who represents three of the landowners, has asked for a 30-day continuance to prepare. The landowners retained him only last week to represent them in the hearings.

Previously, they had no legal representation but Abuhejleh has offered to represent them without charge.

In its filing Wednesday, the DEP also addressed Abuhejleh’s statement in his petition to intervene that the DEP’s pre-trial statement makes it “ ... impossible to discern what it attempts to prove or disprove at the upcoming hearing.”

Donna Duffy, regional counsel for the DEP, stated in Wednesday’s filing that the “formation of the DEP’s position on the application is not formed until the entire administrative process is complete, not just the filing of the application and the hearing.”

Duffy also asked that the hearing officer set a deadline for any more property owners to intervene in the case because several other property owners without leases remain in the forced pooling unit but are not being represented by Abuhejleh.


Text Only | Photo Reprints
Closer Look
  • disability.jpg Disabilities group unveils new icon

    Disability Options Network is joining forces with the Accessible Icon Project. Officials of the community organization, located at 1929 E. Washington St., said its new icon will replace the current international symbol for accessibility.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • well.jpg Auditor: State doesn’t have enough inspectors to monitor wells

    The state’s 83 well inspectors face a daunting enough challenge keeping tabs on 120,000 active oil and gas wells that have been drilled over the last century.


    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • vote.jpg Independent hopefuls may widen gubernatorial field

    Just when Pennsylvania voters were getting used to the idea of a gubernatorial election showdown between Republican incumbent Tom Corbett and Democratic challenger Tom Wolf, other hopefuls may soon be joining the fray.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • manna.jpg John K. Manna: Measuring the money

    Should we even bother to have an election in November? By some accounts, maybe the results of some contests are already in.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • shooting.jpg Man injured in city shooting

    A man was flown to a Pittsburgh hospital Thursday morning following a shooting on West Lincoln Avenue.


    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • police.jpg Police: Man pulls gun on construction workers

    Construction workers in Neshannock Township flagged down police Thursday claiming a business owner had pulled a gun on them.


    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Shooting.jpg Shooting witness arrested for giving false name

    State police have arrested a second Detroit area man after questioning him about Sunday’s fatal shooting in Ellwood City. DeMarco Dorian Hoskins, 22, of Highland Park, Mich., was the third man in a private car that transported the deceased to look for a hospital. Hoskins allegedly gave police a false identity when they questioned him as witness.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • bridgerepair.jpg PennDOT seeks outside help to make bridge repairs

    State officials are poised to sign a massive deal that will enlist outside help to rebuild and maintain up to 600 bridges, marking the Corbett administration’s latest foray into privatizing key government functions.


    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • GALLO_Natalie.jpg County native plays Clinton intern

    Natalie Gallo isn’t an intern, but she’s playing one on the New York stage.


    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Shooting.jpg Coroner: Shooting victim hit by two bullets

    An autopsy revealed a Detroit area man killed in an Ellwood City shootout had suffered two gunshot wounds. Only one was a fatal hit.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads
Seasonal Content
Section Teases
Must Read
Continuous Super Bowl Coverage